AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --
“If you have a mindset that stays positive, willing to adapt, you will definitely overcome.”
Staff Sgt. Shutyame Maryl Lisa, 380th Expeditionary Medical Group laboratory technician, shares her advice from her life experiences with Airmen who may be going through a tough time.
Maryl Lisa needed to have a positive mindset, especially since she was one of 50,000 people randomly selected out of more than 9 million applicants who vied for a chance to come to the United States during the application period that lasted one month in the fall of 2012, according to the U.S. Department of State-Bureau of Consular Affairs.
Maryl Lisa applied for the program for 10 years before she was finally selected. In August of 2014 she joined her mom in America.
“Coming to the United States was such a change, I had mental shock, socio-economic shock, a language barrier,” she said. “I had to adjust and there was little to no time to schedule that adjustment. I had to hit the ground running.”
During that adjustment, a short five months after she arrived in the U.S., Maryl Lisa’s mom passed away.
“Then it was like back to zero…where am I going?”
At that time she was working as a sales agent at a department store, but she soon found the direction she wanted to go in.
“Every day I went to work, I just kept telling myself you got to do something better, you can do better,” Maryl Lisa said. “I just had the mindset that said you have to start from somewhere, so I made every day a good day, but I kept doing my research on what I can do better …”
She sought the advice of others as she searched for the path to choose, which is when she was encouraged to join the military.
“The first office I walked into was the Air Force Recruiter’s office. Everything he told me seemed like what I wanted at that point. An education, financial stability, so I said yes I am going to join the Air Force.”
In August of 2015 Maryl Lisa started the process to join the Air Force and in February of 2016 she entered Basic Training.
“I came in open general and medical laboratory technician was my first choice,” she said. “I love my job. I love my job because of the essential role I play in saving lives. Being able to provide accurate test results to the doctors is one of the most important steps to providing efficient patient care and that’s what I do.”
As a deployed Airman, her journey and contributions to the team have been noticed.
“When I first heard Staff Sgt. Maryl Lisa’s story about how she won the “lottery” to come to the United States, I was so humbled by her journey,” Lt. Col Amber Schindele, 380 EMDG administrator and medical support flight commander said. “As an Air Force laboratory technician, Staff Sgt. Shutyame Maryl Lisa is a hidden professional dedicated to finding answers. She helps differentiate and confirm diagnoses when it can be a multitude of issues. Her expertise coincide with doctors solving medical puzzles to treat patients. The 380th Expeditionary Medical Group is grateful to Staff Sgt. Maryl Lisa on our team; it is truly the Air Force that won the “lottery” when Shutyame decided to become an Airman.”
Maryl Lisa continues to grow as she works her way toward commissioning as a lab officer, which is why she is currently going to school for her bachelor’s in medical services.
Through the challenges and triumphs, Maryl Lisa’s support group has helped her traverse whatever she faces.
“Every step of the way I’ve had support,” she said. “At work I’ve had leadership, I have friends, wingmen that have in one way or the other helped me through every difficult stage in life. Back home, family and friends, have helped me go through difficult times in life.”
Maryl Lisa’s life journey has brought about personal growth that continues to reap benefits.
“It has helped me become a better person in the sense that I am more flexible now,” she said. “I am more open to change. I’m able to adapt in every environment I find myself. It might be tough at the start, but I have a mindset of getting the best of wherever I’m at in the moment, so I’m ready to adapt as fast as I can.”
Her advice to Airmen coming up through the ranks behind her is simple, grow.
“To junior Airmen, you should not get comfortable, always strive to become a better version of you,” she said. “Always ask for help, your leadership is there to help you, but they won’t know if you don’t come and ask for help, for information. Don’t shun criticism, or correction because it’s only there to make us better. Sometimes it may not always come the right way, but if you have a positive mind about it, accept it, it’s going to help you become better."